Montréal July festival guide

Jamie O'Meara

While there’s an argument to be made that Montréal’s festival season is more of a 365-days-a-year situation, there does come a point when a wave of major festivals – like the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, Just For Laughs and Nuits D’Afrique – suddenly appears on the horizon. That point is now. To help you ride it out in style, we offer you our Montréal July festival guide.

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Digital delights

ELEKTRA (June 26 to July 1) ELEKTRA is a yearly digital arts festival showcasing new creations in electronic music, video, cinema, performance, design, gaming and interactive installation in combination with the innovative use of new technology, especially digital technologies. This year’s festival also includes the International Digital Art Biennial (BIAN), which is held every two years. This 4th edition of BIAN (June 29 to August 5) will be held at Arsenal, under the theme “AUTOMATA: Sing the Body Electric”, exploring the interaction between the mind and the electrified body. The BIAN 2018 will be curated by Peter Weibel.

A huge open-air gallery

Mtl en Arts (from June 27 to July 1) A major artistic event, Mtl en Arts sets up at the heart of downtown from June 27 to July 1. With an expo-sale, interactive performances and installations and workshops for kids, it’s the place to be for those in search of inspiration and creativity.   

Jazz greats = great jazz

The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal (June 28 to July 7) The Guinness Book of World Records declared it the largest jazz festival in the world in 2004. The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal will once again overwhelm the downtown Quartier des Spectacles this year with hundreds of concerts representing numerous genres.

A lot of clowning around

MONTRÉAL COMPLÈTEMENT CiRQUE (July 5 to 15) Montréal will be showing off at major, multidisciplinary circus arts festival COMPLÈTEMENT CiRQUE. The 11-day indoor/outdoor fest unites Montréal’s key circus companies as they highlight world-class local talent alongside ground breaking international guests.

It’s a zoo out there!

Zoofest & OFF JFL (July 5 to 28) From July 5 to 28, Zoofest & OFF JFL corrals the craziest and most fearless acts in the performing arts world. Emerging talents in comedy, theatre, music, and other genres take you on a wild adventure you won’t soon forget.

Seeing stars at Comiccon

Montreal Comiccon (July 6 to 8) From July 6 to 8, Montreal Comiccon will roll out the red carpet for big-name stars from the worlds of science-fiction, fantasy, horror, video games and, of course, comic books at the Palais des congrès de Montréal. This year’s star-studded 10th edition will be the biggest Montréal Comiccon yet with more than 60,000 attendees and dozens of star guests, including David Duchovny, Chuck Norris, Pamela Anderson and Val Kilmer plus many more.

Have a blast

L’International des Feux Loto-Québec (July 7 to August 8) World-class pyrotechnicians representing their respective countries are invited to participate in this competition. The best spot to watch the fireworks is from the grandstands at La Ronde where you’ll see them take off from Lac des Dauphins and illuminate the night sky. 

Bright lights for African nights

Festival International Nuits D’Afrique (July 10 to 22) Montréal’s much-loved Nuits D’Afrique world music festival brings the best of African and African-influenced music from some of the biggest names in the game at numerous indoor and free outdoor shows. Past performers have included Youssou N’Dour, Angelique Kidjo, Omar Sosa and Papa Wemba.

Putting the fun in funny

Just For Laughs Festival (July 11 to 29) Just For Laughs (the world’s largest comedy fest) and its associated industry conference brings both A-List comedians and next-generation up-and-comers to its galas and club shows. Its sprawling outdoor site in the Quartier des Spectacles is also a daily hive of family-friendly entertainment opportunities. 

Scarily good

Fantasia International Film Festival (July 12 to August 1) Premiere magazine called it “one of the most exciting genre film festivals in the world,” and the approximately 125,000 festivalgoers who attend Fantasia’s 150-plus films every year would be among the first to agree. Underground, international and retro films in the realms of horror, fantasy, sci-fi and much more are on offer at this 22nd edition, as well as numerous associated conferences and industry/social functions.

Metal mayhem

Heavy Montréal (July 27 to 29) Heavy Montréal is unconditional in its love of heavy music: death metal, hair metal, black metal, hard rock and hardcore all enjoy equal attention. 

Jamie O’Meara

Jamie O’Meara, blogger

Jamie O’Meara is a writer for The Montreal Gazette, C2 Montréal, Moment Factory and more. He also manages the PR Team at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival and is the former Editor-in-Chief of alt-weekly newspaper HOUR Magazine.

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